Snider: At 2-9, it’s all about the second wave & a quartet of young studs.
The Redskins aren’t looking for second chances over the final weeks or even having second thoughts. At 2-9, it’s all about the second wave.
Washington benched veteran Case Keenum for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Running back Derrius Guice is readying to overtake veteran Adrian Peterson. Receiver Kelvin Harmon is getting more looks. Along with receiver Terry McLaurin, who made an immediate impact this season, the quartet are the Redskins offensive core for the next few seasons.
That is, if they can prove worthy over the final five games.
Haskins is the biggest unknown, though Guice hasn’t shined yet, either. Quarterbacks get the limelight – and late-game selfies, it seems – so Guice’s shortcomings and meager runs have been overshadowed by Haskins’ erratic play.
Haskins called himself a closer after managing to move the team a few yards for a winning field goal against the Detroit Lions. Sorry, closers throw touchdowns. Haskins simply managed not to blow it. He finished 13 of 29 for 156 yards with one interception and a 47.5 rating. Haskins overthrew several receivers, including McLaurin in the end zone on the previous drive. It was an uneven performance and yet, the best of his three starts. Maybe not statistically, but mechanically there was a lot to like in finding his receivers. He just overthrew them.
Haskins is only 22-years old. Some of his shortcomings may be overcome with another 1,000 throws. But, he needs some maturing. The rolling eyes of offensive linemen when Haskins approached them during the Jets loss spoke volumes. The passer needs to gain respect from teammates and finishing well would do much to do so.
Guice is still an enigma nearing the end of his second season. The second-round pick missed his rookie year with a preseason knee injury. Then he was hurt in this year’s opener after gaining 18 yards on 10 carries. Both knees injured right away doesn’t lend to a long career.
Guice returned after 10 weeks to gain 24 yards on seven carries versus the Jets and 32 yards on 10 runs against the Lions. It was his 45-yard reception versus the Lions with 35 after the catch that spoke to his potential. Guice flashes so much ability, but between the offensive line’s poor run blocking that often has runners hit at the line and a meager 2.7 yard per carry average, his impact remains uncertain.
McLaurin has already shown his potential. He leads the Redskins with 40 catches for 638 yards and five touchdowns. His first three games for 16 receptions and three touchdowns alerted the league McLaurin was for real and he has faced tighter coverage since. But when Haskins needed help against Detroit, the former Ohio State teammates found each other for five receptions. Look for that trend to continue for the rest of the season.
Harmon is just emerging with 8 of his 16 receptions over the last two games. The Redskins seemed reluctant to use him in the early weeks and then just forgot about him until the Jets game. Yet, he’s a physical receiver who screams potential. The team will focus on that in December.
Overall, maybe something positive will emerge from such a negative season. The Redskins are hoping the foursome show they will be the future.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.